I’m a natural
We know that the automated tools save you time and simplify the process, so the big question is: are they worth the money and are the results good?
What’s AirMagic and How Do You Use it?
Before we dive into the details of how it works I want to give you a quick introduction to what AirMagic is: In the developers own words, it is ‘Powered by AI and advanced algorithms to improve your aerial photos automatically‘.
Note that it’s advertised as a tool to process aerial photography but it still worked when using a regular DSLR image.
While most photo editors tend to add more and more features, AirMagic has gone the opposite way; there’s only one slider and it adjusts the strength of the adjustment.
AirMagic can be used either as a standalone software or as a plugin to Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop or Apple Photos Extension. I’ve been testing it as a Lightroom plugin.
Processing an Image in AirMagic
Using AirMagic is rather straight forward. I’ve chosen to use it as a plugin with Adobe Lightroom but the steps are the same once the application is opened.
In Lightroom, find the aerial image you’d like to process then right click and select Edit in -> AirMagic…
You’ll now be taken out of Lightroom and a separate window with AirMagic is opened with your selected image:
Looking at the image above you can see just how simple the AirMagic interface is. It really is intended to work with only a single click. Pull the slider left and right to see how the image looks like before and after.
Clicking on the brush icon removes the split screen and reveals AirMagic’s only slider. Use this slider to adjust the strength of the adjustment. Personally, I preferred to keep it somewhere on the left half.
A styles menu is revealed by clicking on the image circle in the lower left corner. By default, there are six looks to choose between. These are easily applied by clicking on them. Styles work in the same way as presets but the main difference is that you can purchase it directly from their website. Their styles are developed by the AirMagic team and certain photographers who they collaborate with.
When you’ve selected your style and adjusted its intensity, click the Done button to finish up. The processed image is automatically imported back to Lightroom or to your folder if using the standalone version.
I haven’t used any tool before that’s quite as simple as this one. It’s nice, for once, to be able to use something without spending a lot of time reading up on what to do.
I’ve been running several tests with AirMagic lately and have made some quite interesting observations along the way:
- AirMagic seems to do a better job with warm images captured in daylight and/or with a stronger presence of blue. The results for images captured in ‘bad weather’ and during winter aren’t equally satisfying.
- Close to no noise is added throughout the process – which is a good thing. Only some noise appears in areas where shadows have been brightened but this is expected regardless of the software.
- Using a high intensity of the edit tends to drastically increase the vibrancy; I prefer keeping the slider somewhere on the left side for a more natural look.
- There’s no loss in sharpness throughout the process – good.
- Images are saved
as . tif
AirMagic does a good job for most images. I feel it’s only for winter scenes that it’s still lacking a bit and I suspect that’s because it tends to increase the saturation in the blues a bit too much.
Here are two examples of how I used AirMagic to process drone images with one click:
Who is AirMagic For?
I’m not going to lie and say that AirMagic is a great option for everyone. Because it’s not. It is, however, a very useful tool for those who fall into one or more of these groups:
- You don’t have the time to process your images but still want them to look as good as possible
- You don’t enjoy spending time processing your images and prefer to spend as little time as possible while still having good results
- You want all your images to have a similar style and like using presets
I believe AirMagic is worth the money if you recognize yourself in one of the groups above. It’s a simple and efficient tool that does exactly what it promises.
This is not for photographers who work on developing their own unique style. To do this, you need to invest the time in manual post-processing.
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